Southwest Airlines Launches Southwest Business Meetings—A Digital Tool to Make Group Booking Easier
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On October 17, Southwest Airlines launched a new product specifically designed for meeting and event planners. Southwest Business Meetings aims to make booking air travel for events as easy and as automated as possible. The timing couldn’t be better, remarked Dave Harvey, VP and chief sales officer for the airline, as the launch coincided with day one of IMEX America 2023, where the Southwest team had the opportunity to walk meeting planners through the tool in real time on the show floor.
“It’s been met with actual rounds of applause,” he said. “Planners want efficiency. Before, it was a clunky process. Now we’ve reduced it down to minutes.”
For meetings with 25 or more travelers, new digitized options for planners include:
Automated proposal requests
Streamlined proposal management and proposal tracking
Self-service name change requests up until 24 hours before departure
Booking meetings travel in the booking channel of choice (GDS, API/Direct Connect, or SWABIZ®)
Viewing meetings specific reporting within Southwest Business Assist™
"Southwest Business Meetings is another step in our commitment to better serve travel programs while removing friction and bringing a new level of digital hospitality to managing meeting travel," Harvey added in a release announcing the news. "These new tools and features allow planners the ability to focus more on their event and less on travel while letting Southwest create unique solutions designed to provide more benefits to them and their travelers."
Southwest Airlines Continues Growth in Major Meetings Markets
More meeting planners may find themselves turning to Southwest Airlines and taking advantage of its new group booking system due to the growth the airline has experienced in recent years. Southwest is the largest carrier in two of North America’s most popular markers—Las Vegas and Orlando, with the former offering 275 daily flights.
Harvey noted that incentive markets like Hawaii, Cancun and Los Cabos are also seeing growth, along with Long Beach, California. In total, Southwest currently serves 121 cities across 11 countries.
Although some meeting planners might have some apprehension to book Southwest due to last winter’s major holiday disruption, Harvey believes that Southwest is positioned well for the future.
“It will make us a stronger airline for the next generation,” he said, adding that the company has been addressing infrastructure, technology and communication issues that contributed to the problems last year. Also, he noted, the airline performed well during a tough 2023 hurricane season, and that the Southwest’s on-time performance is in the top five airline carriers, which hopefully continues to inspire confidence from meeting planners.
Learn more about Southwest Business Meetings.